School board members want to develop an evaluation that considers how well the director of schools meets certain performance standards, such as student achievement.

The newly formed director of schools evaluation committee met Aug. 13 and laid out their priorities for a new evaluation to include performance indicators, faculty and staff input and public input.

“Given a period of time, we should be able to measure the effectiveness of the director by looking at student performance,” Rob Safdie, 2nd District representative, told the committee.

Jim Inman, 1st District representative, cautioned such an evaluation would depend on effective state testing programs, which have been riddled with problems in the past several years. 

Safdie said an evaluation based on student achievement would require several years.

“We all have to have an understanding this is a long-term project where we can look at the movement of the schools in accomplishing specific goals,” Safdie said.

Those goals could include improved reading achievement in the third grade or a specific improvement in academic achievement overall.

“I’ve been in systems where, if those goals weren’t reached, you re-evaluate and re-assess,” Safdie said. “So a performance evaluation can be a very positive experience for both the board members and the director and her staff.” 

The committee also noted the school system has a strategic plan in place. The annual planning calendar charts progress toward those projects.

“We need to determine how we can use the strategic plan as objective criteria for the evaluation of the director,” Safdie said. “That’s my first priority.”

Stace Karge, 9th District representative, said a portion of the evaluation should consider input from the public and faculty and staff. 

“For me, when I’m evaluating, it’s hard for me to evaluate from their standpoint,” Karge said. “As a director of schools, that’s who you manage. If we don’t include them, I think we’re missing a crucial piece. 

Jim Inman, 1st District representative, said the current evaluation asks the board to rank the director on community and staff relations.

“I don’t know how the community relations are,” Inman said. “I’ve got just a small group of people who talk to me. I want it opened up so the community has an opportunity to do some type of evaluation, as well as the faculty and staff.”

Those responses could be weighted to account for very high and very low scores, Karge said.

“People tend to only engage in these surveys when they’re in a negative vibe,” she said. “I don’t think that’s fair. That’s why we need to weight it.”

Inman agreed.

“You’ll get the lovers and the haters, and that’s not what I’m looking for,” Inman said. “I’m looking for how, on average, people feel the school system is operating.”

Inman said many evaluations in use in other districts were cumbersome, with 20 or more pages.

He said he liked the current evaluation provided input from community and staff could be incorporated.

“And let us draw from that for our scores on community and staff,” Inman said.

Director of Schools Janet Graham said she would talk with other directors of school to see if any have a performance-based evaluation the committee could use as a model or starting point.

 

 

 

 

 

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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